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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Leave headphones at home for this blend of beat(poet)s

Make no mistake, Saul Williams’ latest book, “Chorus” is NOT your average anthology.

“I don’t really give a fuck about anthologies; they just never interest me,” he said in an interview with The Daily Cardinal.

This brazen voice from the slam poetry, music and theater worlds is encouraging anyone who will listen to use their own. Williams seeks to unearth the creative potential in every individual through art.

“I think that art empowers people,” he said. “It plays a powerful role in people finding the strength and courage in [them] blossoming into the people that they’re destined to be.

“I think certain times it can inspire that thing in someone that gives them courage or alternative energy aside from what society offers them on a commercial basis. And I just want to be able to contribute to and be something useful to, you know, whatever drives them to whatever creative inspiration they may have.”

The result of this passion and love for creation soon resulted in what comes of most relationships with strong emotional ties: a mixtape. Though this particular amalgamation is of the literary variety.

Also, rather than 20-some tracks, “Chorus: a literary mixtape” brings together the voices of 100 both well-known and obscure artists.

“You know, it’s not a traditional anthology in that the names of the poets and the names of their poems are not over their poems,” Williams said, “they’re in the back of the book like film credits.

“So really I’m just a curator at like an art gallery displaying other people’s work.”

Williams then used his own voice to meld the poems together, highlighting stanzas and lines with what he calls the “red poem,” displayed in noticeably lighter font in the actual text. This red poem acts as a thread, running the entire length of the book, stitching each individual piece together to construct a cohesive tapestry of language.

“But you need to read the book twice to get it,” he added.

In perfect pairing with the unconventionality of this literary fusion, Williams used the Internet—often so full of shouts, rants, musings and a general cacophony of voices—to find the fabric of his work.

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“I put out the word to social media for poets to send me their work to conduct an experiment—I received 8,000 poems in a month,” Williams said. With the help of two friends, he soon narrowed the entries to 100 poems and then reworked, rearranged and re-envisioned each one on the wall of his home in Paris, France for the next six months. What has come of the project is truly one united voice worth listening to.

“It was my way of saying thank you to all of the poetry community that I’ve met, you know, as I’ve traveled you know, around the world meeting young poets,” he said in earnest.

A worthy message, considering Williams was once a blossoming wordsmith himself. He got his first leg up with a role in the film “Slam” back in 1998 and has been performing ever since—and as the words flow, it does not appear he will be stopping any time soon.

You can catch the lithe lines of inner emotion straight from the curator’s mouth for free this Thursday, Sept. 13 at 9:30 p.m. at the Memorial Union Terrace where Williams will be verbally bumping his literary mixtape.

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